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The Role of Values in American Culture

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The word value has many meanings firstly it means the worth of something that can be traded with an amount of money, but it could also mean morals, and a person’s principles and their standards. Values have to do a lot with ethics since they both mostly surround dealing with moral principles. This topic is extremely tricky because every single person has values but they differ from a culture to another and religion can affect our values and it can be affected by many other factors. So since values are different it is hard to define, because it is not all black and white or wrong and right.

My right could be very different from someone else’s right and vice versa. But there is an easy way to know where values come from and that might make it easier to define, most people learn their values from their parents who learned theirs from their society, culture, religion and maybe even life experiences, some people even argue that our values are something that we are born with.

Values are very important since they help us with interacting with other members of the society and fitting in as well, and it also helps making choices if something is against your value in your list of options then you most probably will not do it, and that means values determine our actions and our actions represent us. Values have plenty of sources and the age of a person determines the societal sources, first of all as a young child a person gets their values from their family especially parents and older siblings, young children start learning wrong and right in a very simple way, and as they get older they start learning from their teachers, and even TV programs and that is why parents should be aware of what their kids should and should not watch especially if it is against their values because children tend to absorb a lot of information from cartoons and such.

Teenagers get their values from one another and they tend to test and examine their values a bit more. An adult has a sort of fixed values that they believe in and they examine their values and reflect. Values come from other sources as well, first of all religion, religions guides people that follow it to have certain values since most religions really focus on ethical principles and morals.

Culture is another source of values with each culture come different values some are very similar and some are very different, history is also extremely important since studies have shown that after wars or any big event that happens in a period of time s change in values happen. The newest source of values is social media. Social media allows people worldwide to connect and to share information and that made a virtual community that is very real when it comes to values and such, young adults are the most people that get their values from social media and it is hard to know if it’s the wrong or right way to go.

Another source that people might debate about are the natural factors some people suggest that people have natural morals that are not taught they are just there naturally, maybe psychology agrees but biology shows the opposite since for example an unattractive male in nature would rape women in order to reproduce, morally that is very wrong and punishable by almost every culture.

Values are very important because they determine our lives, since the choices we make build our lives and we choose according to our values. Our principles are what helps us make decisions from small ones such as what to wear in a job interview to if you should quit your job because it goes against your values. There are many types of values, individual, societal, relationship and organizational values. Individual values include honesty because it is what defines who you are and it also makes it easier to deal with the truth instead of covering everything up with lies, and it also allows the mind to expand rather than be fixed or even shrink with lies and excuses, and it also makes a person worth of respect and trustworthy and that helps individuals with their relationships.

Enthusiasm is another important value since it helps individuals with reaching their goals and bring their dreams reality. Hard work is also considered a value since working hard makes a person faster and it also teaches them how to use the smartest way to do the work. Confidence and how people think of themselves is very important because if gives strength and with that it helps boost a person to do better and better and it is also very helpful when it comes to relationships.

Societal values are as important as individual values a few examples of them are equality, respect, service, opportunities. Equality is very important in order to have a functioning healthy society, if black people were mistreated or women are viewed to be less than men then that it something against our values and what we think is right, also service is very important since as a society members should help each other whether it’s with volunteering or teaching or anything that benefits other members of the society, opportunities are very important since they help the society to become one.

Multiculturalism in society shows if a society follows their values or not, respecting one another despite the differences in race or ethnicity and giving each part of the society a chance to succeed and to also treat everyone equally. But it is hard to define the values of a society since some members do not view themselves as a part of a society they view themselves as an individual and somewhat that is everyone, but our view is not the same as the facts, but since people view themselves as individual members sometimes that does not mean that they can do whatever they want without being judged for their actions by their society if it is against their principles and morals or even religion. According to Anderson there have been five weaknesses in the values that leads the present American society to not think about their values nor examine them.

  1. The emphasis on bottom-line economics in our culture. When a society goes through a traumatic financial experience where people might even lose their lives having said that a new value is created and actions that people take will not be seen as “how much does it cost.?” Rather than if it is morally wrong and right.
  2. Conditions of modern society not conductive to long-term social relationships. People tend to move from a place to another a lot, and they tend to switch jobs a lot more frequently and that makes it hard to maintain any long relationships, it is not unusual for a person to not know their neighbors, or are friends with their coworkers.
  3. Multiculturalism and the acceptance of ethical relativism. Because the American society has plenty of cultures and it is very diverse, everyone is treated equally. And everyone shares their different values from different cultures.
  4. The collapsing of morality into legality. People tend to mix up between morals and values and whether something is legal or not. If it is legal then people tend to think that it is the right thing to do.
  5. New complicated ethical issues and conflicting perspectives from ethicist. People stopped choosing the right thing if it was not very helpful at that time, first of all in the medical field people are kept alive for too long even if the quality of life is terrible and uncomfortable, so it is basically not knowing what to choose between right and wrong because they are unknown and they are right for some people and wrong to others.

In conclusion values are extremely important but we still don’t know what’s right and what’s not so it is a little complicated but in the other hand there would be no functioning society or successful individuals without values.

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